James Allen Roddy, 79, was born July 5, 1941 to Dr. James Wade Roddy and Helen Jean Roddy in Charlotte, North Carolina. Raised in Richton, Mississippi, he attended Southern Missionary College (now Southern Adventist University) in Collegedale, Tennessee. At Southern, he met the love of his life, Norma Jean. Their marriage, which lasted more than 55 years, began August 15, 1965. That same year he earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and accepted a faculty position at Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) in Huntsville, Alabama.
At his beloved Oakwood, Coach Roddy established the Physical Education Department, intramurals, and the intercollegiate sports program. While teaching, he continued his education, earning his master of education degree from USM. He devoted 52 years to teaching and coaching at Oakwood. He helped with the development of a cooperative Physical Education Program with Alabama A&M University in 1986, and subsequently in the development of Oakwood’s Physical Education major in 1988. Over his tenure, he served as Oakwood’s athletic director, a member of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, and in 2003 was a committee member who established guidelines for Seventh-day Adventist athletes. In 2007, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of developing a competitive athletic program at Oakwood by joining the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) in seven sports, and winning the National USCAA Basketball Championships in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Before retiring in 2017, he professed that it had been his true honor to serve Oakwood University, witness to the students, and lead by example.
Despite vast accomplishments and awards bestowed upon him, James’ greatest love in life was God. He enjoyed speaking with the Lord frequently and journaling most of his prayers. In sharing this passion for God with his wife, they shared it with their children, and extended it to the athletes and students they held dear in their hearts. As an active elder and Sabbath School teacher at the Oakwood University Church, he modeled God’s love through servant leadership and engaging lesson studies. He was a godly man, and a devoted husband, father, grandfather, mentor, and friend.
After a month-long fight with COVID-19, Coach Roddy died Thursday, December 31, 2020, with his wife holding his hand at his bedside. He is survived by his faithful, loving wife, Norma Jean, and their five children: Jordan (Gilda), Jamie (Stephen), Jeramy (Premala), Carie (Anthony), and Katie (Josia). He will be greatly missed by his nine grandchildren: Léa, Gisèle, Charlize, James Jude, Brooks, Brayden, Ella, Mary Brenden, and Bronson. He will also be fondly remembered by his brother, Charles, as well as countless relatives, friends, colleagues, and students. Preceding him in death were his parents; two sons, Landon and Brenden; and his sister, Carolyn.
To honor Coach Roddy, we will celebrate his life by reflecting on his devotion to God, dedication to his family, students, friends, and his many accomplishments. As a trailblazing coach, the “Crown of Life” still remains the ultimate championship prize.
Oakwood University | April 2021